Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hybrid Heaven

(NOTE: Bay Area radio station KQED has a feature called the "KQED Perspective." Anyone may submit a 375-word piece on a topic of their own choice, and if it is accepted the author goes to station to read it (two-minute limit), and then it is broadcast to the station's wide audience. Below is the script of a Perspective I wrote and which was broadcast on July 31, 2008. You can listen to it here.)

AFTER TWENTY-TWO YEARS of driving San Francisco taxicabs, most of which averaged about twelve miles per gallon, a year ago I made The Switch.

I gave up my gas guzzler and put a snappy-looking green-and-white hybrid on the streets. Now there are seven of us at the company where I work.

Last Friday, as I was flying across the Bay Bridge, the odometer clicked over to 100,000 miles. You’ll probably not believe the year-end numbers, but here they are:

In the past year I have cut my gas consumption at work by nearly 75% percent. To log 100,000 miles, one of my old slurpers would have burned more than 8,000 gallons of gas. But my hybrid averages about 45 miles-per-gallon, and to drive last year’s 100,000 miles it used less than 3,000 gallons. That’s at least 5,000 gallons of gasoline that didn’t get burned last year. Great for the environment AND for a cab driver’s wallet! At $4.50 per gallon, my pretty green hybrid saves enough money, each year, so that I could afford, each year, to buy ANOTHER brand new, beautiful hybrid.

PLUS enough gas to drive it from the Golden Gate to the White House!

AND back!


At the end of my shift I often pull into a station where several other cab drivers are leaning against their thirsty cabs, watching their pumps register forty dollars, fifty dollars, sixty dollars… I quickly pump my twelve or maybe fifteen bucks worth, and drive off to a chorus of, “Hey -- that’s no fair!”

It’s a cry echoing across America these days. But if our country could achieve the 75% reduction my hybrid has –- or a 50% or even a 30% reduction –- we would OVERNIGHT re-draw the world’s geo-political and economic maps. The U.S. consumes some 400 million gallons of gasoline per day –- 150 billion gallons per year… All that money we’re shipping to other countries...

My guess is that most people WANT to make The Switch, but are waiting for the right time.

I think the time is Now.

With a Perspective, I’m Brad Newsham.